GREEN BANK, W.Va. — A pair of public meetings on the future of Green Bank Observatory in Pocahontas County is scheduled for Wednesday.

Its parent company, the National Science Foundation, has pulled funding and now the Green Bank Observatory faces deconstruction.

Charles Sheets, of Pocahontas County, is board president of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation which includes Pocahontas County.

“Growing up around there, I’m a lifelong resident of Pocahontas County and we just think it’s so sad that the National Science Foundation wants to pull out funding from that group,” Sheets told MetroNews.

Five preliminary alternatives will be discussed, and public comments taken, at the public meetings which will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Green Bank Observatory Science Center.

The five alternatives include:

Continued operation of the observatory for science-focused operations, relying on NSF funding.

Continued operation of the observatory through collaboration with and funding from private and public partners for science- and education-focused operations, with reduced NSF funding, which is the current situation at Green Bank.

Collaboration with interested parties for operating the site as a technology and education park.

Suspending operations at the observatory and mothballing all facilities pending a possible resumption of activities at a later date.

“Deconstruction” of the facility followed by “site restoration.”

Sheets said the final alternatives of deconstruction and site restoration are “unthinkable.”

“There’s like 40,000 visitors a year come to that site. We’re just proud to have it in Green Bank, particularly Pocahontas County and West Virginia. It’s just meant so much to us over the years,” he said.

Public comments can be sent by email to envcomp-AST-greenbank@nsf.gov or to Elizabeth Pentecost at Green Bank Observatory, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1045, Arlington, VA 22230. Written comments will be accepted through Nov. 19.

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